Russell Crowe's slave takes on Joaquin Phoenix's evil Emperor in Ridley Scott's gloriously gory swords-and-sandals epic

Roman army general Maximus (Russell Crowe) gets on the wrong side of his new emperor (Joaquin Phoenix), narrowly escapes execution, and, with his family murdered and nothing but revenge to live for, ends up fighting as a gladiator. But, courtesy of Crowe's new master Oliver Reed (excellent, in his final role), the paths of the two men are destined to cross again...

Dodgy accents aside, Crowe does make a fantastic heroic figure and what better place for him to strut his Antipodean stuff than in Ancient Rome. Teaming up with British director Ridley Scott for the first time, he shot to superstardom as Rome's most popular gladiator and the result is an epic adventure that teams with action, wonderful settings and an impressive supporting cast.